QuébecCity, January 1, 2013– The reform of provincial political funding that has seen the maximum allowed contribution to a political party, an independent member or an authorized independent candidate decreased from $1,000 to $100 is now in force. An important part of the new Act modifying the Election Act in order to reduce the limit of contributions per elector, reducing the ceiling for election expenses and increasing the public financing of Québec political parties is therefore implemented. This is also so for the measures that will increase the public financing of parties, along with those which will eventually limit their electoral expenses. Except in the case of contributions made during leadership campaigns for political parties that are currently underway, the tax credit granted to electors who contribute to provincial politics is abolished from today.
The reform will not fundamentally change the role of the DGEQ. “Contributions will continue to be sent directly to us before being sent to political parties, stated the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Jacques Drouin and we will still be responsible for providing parties with their financing that comes from the State.” However, this public financing will go beyond the annual allowance given by the DGEQ; an additional subsidy that matches and enhances contributions also enters into force today.
Maximum allowed contribution
There is now a maximum of $100 per year, rather than $1,000, that an elector in Québec can give, from his own property, voluntarily and without compensation, to a political party, an independent member or an authorized independent candidate. The maximum contribution in cash is also reduced, from $99 to $50. In the case of a general election or a by-election, an additional contribution of $100 will be allowed, in addition to the first $100 already permitted by law.
To compensate for reduced revenue resulting from lowering the maximum allowed contribution, public financing from the State has been enhanced. The first way to accomplish this is to enhance contributions given by electors. Under a matching and enhancing mechanism which comes into force today, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec will give parties an additional amount of money for each dollar collected from contributions:
For a political party that amasses $220,000 in contributions, thus resulting in total revenue of $470,000, they will have received a subsidy of $250,000 for a financial year. During a general election, the enhancement mechanism is reset and a provincial political party that collects again $220,000 of contributions sees this amount increased, so it will receive from the DGEQ an additional sum of $250,000.
The new mechanism will also allow new political parties to more rapidly build election funds. These are political parties that have never participated in an election, and thus have no right to an annual allowance from the DGEQ. They can benefit from a matching and enhancing mechanism, but under the condition of being supported by a sufficient number of members under rules determined by the Election Act.
Independent members or authorized independent candidates who collect $800 in contributions will benefit from an enhancement of $2.50 per dollar amassed, for total additional revenue of $2,000 and total revenue of $2,800.
The increased DGEQ allowance
A second way of increasing the public financing of provincial political parties is to increase the annual allowance given by the Chief Electoral Officer. So, the new act provides for an increase in the sum distributed to political parties based on their election results (percentage of votes obtained). This sum to be divided will henceforth be calculated by multiplying $1.50 (instead of $0.85) by the number of electors registered at the general election. During an election year, the amount per elector used to calculate the amount to be divided between the parties will be increased by $1.00, going from $1.50 to $2.50.
Maximum allowed election expenses
In order to limit the financial needs of political parties during a general election, the new act limits to eight million dollars the allowed amount of election expenses that can be incurred by a party and its candidates. During the last general election, in September, the parties and their candidates could have spent a total sum of around 11.5 million dollars.
Leadership campaigns for political parties
Races for the leadership of provincial political parties that are currently underway are unaffected by the new rules regarding the maximum allowed contributions. Therefore, candidates can still collect contributions up to $1,000, while donors can receive tax credits for political contributions. The maximum contribution will, however, be halved, dropping to $500, for future leadership races.
Finally, it is important to remember that the financing of municipal candidates and parties is unaffected by the legislation entering into force today.
For more information, you can consult the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec’s website at http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/contribution/english/
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